Monday’s 6-5 decision by the Billings City Council not to allow pet pigs within city limits could lead to enforcement measures including the removal of existing pet pigs, Animal Control Supervisor Tom Stinchfield said Tuesday.
“We are going to enforce the current ordinance,” Stinchfield said, referring to the code that prohibits anyone from keeping swine or goats within the city at any time except to bring the animals to market for commercial purposes.
Just as with other pets, enforcement actions against the owners of pet pigs will be complaint driven, Stinchfield said.
“If our officers see a pig in someone’s yard, we will address that,” he said. “Citations can be issued, and we will make sure the pig is removed from the city.”
“What I won’t do,” he added, “is search out people who have pigs. As complaints come in, we will address them.”
Stinchfield said he has "no idea" how many pet pigs reside within city limits.
"There could be hundreds for all I know," he said.
An initial citation for keeping a pig within city limits will cost the pet owner $110. If the owner decides against finding the pig a new home outside city limits, “we’d probably have to get a court order to have it seized and removed,” Stinchfield said.
Council members had asked Stinchfield not to enforce the ordinance until they had decided whether to allow pigs up to 125 pounds to reside in city limits. A handful of pet pig proponents appeared before both the Animal Control Board and the city council in an unsuccessful attempt to allow their pets to remain in Billings lawfully.
After three previous attempts, the council on Monday turned down the proposed change to the ordinance, a proposal that was unanimously recommended by the Animal Control Board.
Although city staff joined the board in recommending the ordinance be changed, Stinchfield said Monday’s determination “is the council’s decision to make. We give them the facts, and they make the decision. That is what we have to live with.”
On another enforcement front — dogs on leashes being welcome in city parks — Stinchfield said officers are reporting that most residents are in compliance.
“We make sure the dogs are on leashes, aren’t in the playgrounds and are following the rules,” he said. “Every now and then we find people playing fetch with their dog, but you can’t do that in a park. People think they can have their dog off-leash in a park, but they can’t.”